The Right Brewing Equipment Makes All The Difference
|November 20, 2010||Posted by 2nobledogs under Methods, Recipes, Rye Ale|
Well, the second attempt went much, much smoother. Having the right equipment makes all the difference in the world. In my last post (see here) I talked about some snags I ran into while brewing my first all grain batch of beer. Mistake number one was trying to save a couple bucks and put together my own mash-tun. I searched high and low to find a tutorial and came up with a fairly simple design. Now, I feel like I am a pretty handy guy but I absolutely botched the straining device in my mash-tun. I used a 12” braided hose with the interior removed. For many folks out there I’m sure this method works just fine. For me…not so much. After about a gallon of sweet wort runoff the wort slowed to a trickle. After I cleaned the mash-tun I realized that I had opened a hole in the side of the braided which let the grain in and quickly clogged the flow.
After that debacle, I broke down and bought a false bottom and spigot assembly that was made to go in the bottom of my mash-tun and when I mashed my grains today it went off without a hitch. It flowed without even a hint of a clog. It’s not terribly expensive at about $45 for the entire assembly. However, if you factor in the $20 – $25 bucks I spent trying to make the first rig, you can see it got kind of expensive. My advice…spring for the false bottom and get it right the first time. I’m sure your local home brew store carries the assembly. If not, you can find them online at The Weekend Brewer or any of the standard online supply stores.
So, for my second attempt at all grain brewing I put together a recipe for a rye ale. I put this recipe together using a new software called BeerSmith Home Brewing Software. This software is awesome! I am still feeling my way around it but it is very intuitive and easy to navigate. The offer a free trail but I’m sure once you use it you will be sold. There is a link on the sidebar of this site. Check it out.
I based my recipe on one of the samples that is included in the software. I just tweaked a couple things like the amount of hops and mash temperature. The recipe is as follows:
Raley’s Rye Me A River
• 8 lbs Pilsner (2 row) Grain
• 2 lbs Rye Malt Grain
• 0.10 lbs Chocolate Malt Grain
• 1.0 oz Pearle Hops (60 min)
• 0.50 oz Saaz Hops (60 min)
• 1.0 oz Spalter Hops (15 min)
• 0.5 oz Saaz Hops (Dry)
• 1 pkg Wh. Labs German Ale Yeast (WLP029)
Once I put together my new and improved mash-tun, I heated about a gallon of water on the stove to about 170 degrees. I used this to preheat the mash-tun. Then I heated 4 gallons to 162 degrees. This is called the strike water which is the used for the initial phase of mashing the grains. Once I reached the target temperature, I discarded the “preheat” water and the poured enough of the strike water into the mash-tun to cover the new “super awesome” false bottom. Then I mixed in the remainder of the grains with enough strike water to fill the mash-tun being careful not to leave any dry spot in the grains. Mix thoroughly, replace the lid and let sit for 60 minutes. This is turning the starches in the grain into fermentable sugars. When you are getting close to the end of that 60 minutes, heat another 3-4 gallons of water to 175 degrees. This is your sparge water. At the end of the 60 minutes, runoff your wort into your brew pot keeping track of the volume. Once the mash-tun has completely runoff, you will need to sparge the grains. There are several different way that this can be done. I used a method called batch sparging. For those of us that are relatively new to all grain brewing, this is probably the simplest method. Batch sparging is simply pouring your sparge water over your grains and letting them sit for another 10-15 minutes then running it off again to the brew pot. If you are making a 5 gallon batch you will need about 6.25 to 6.5 gallons of wort. Remember, for all grain brewing you’re boiling the entire batch so you need to account for what is going to boil off during the process. Once your wort is ready to go, bring it to a rolling boil. Add your Pearle and 0.5 ounces of Saaz hops and continue to boil for 60 minutes. As with extract brewing you need to watch for boil over. At the 45 minute mark add you Spalter hops. If you have a wort chiller you will immerse it in into the wort at this point also. At the end of your boil remove it from the heat and start the cooling process. With a wort chiller this should take about 25 – 30 minutes to get to 75 degrees. Transfer you wort to your fermentor, pitch your yeast and let it go to work.
The original gravity (O.G.) started out at 1.042 which is a little lower than I was expecting but still within acceptable ranges. All in all, the process went pretty smooth. I will update this post with a final gravity reading and let you know how it all turned out. Until then, keep on brewing.
In an effort not to waste anything, my wife has started making bread with the spent grains from the brewing process. As she perfects the recipes I’ll be posting them as well. The bread and grains make good gifts for your neighbors. And who doesn’t want to be a good neighbor, right?
One last thing, since all grain brewing is relatively new to me I will certainly welcome any input or comments on the topic.